The NYS park system is home to some of the state’s most beautiful–and significant–natural treasures and is critical to the long-term protection of numerous rare species and natural communities. There are 504 separate state-endangered or threatened populations of plants and animals in our state parks, which also support the only known occurrences on public lands of 104 rare species and natural community types.
One such rare species found in New York state parks is the American Hart’s-Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium var.
americanum). Ninety percent of the U.S. population of this federally protected fern survives in just two parks: Clark Reservation and Chittenango Falls, both in central New York. The Clark Reservation fern colonies alone account for nearly 80% of the U.S. population. Outside of these parks, the Hart’s-Tongue survives in just a handful of unprotected sites that are impacted by habitat destruction and invasive plant species.
The Environmental Management Bureau at State Parks oversees programs to protect endangered species in parks. At Clark Reservation, the bureau monitors the fern population and removes threatening invasive species.
Hart’s-tongue fern is unusual in that it has simple undivided fronds. The plants grow in lime-rich, moist soil in shady locations.